Care Co-operatives for Disabled People and their Families and Allies


EDG is always striving to be at the forefront in the development of innovative approaches to support and care of disabled people. With funding from Big Lottery (The National Lottery Community Fund), we are supporting groups of people to establish the first ever self-managing care co-operatives in Scotland. 

The project began on the 1st April 2017, with a Big Lottery grant and a plan to develop 5 care co-operatives for disabled people and their families over the next 3 years. Using person-centred tools and approaches we aim to ensure the families have choice and control over how and when they are supported. We have now made a lot of progress with 5 co-operatives at different stages of formation.

Find out more about the background of the project here.


Co-operatives are based on the values of


In the tradition of the co-operative movement’s founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others, supporting one another and acting together to serve their members.

By applying these co-operative principles and values into the context of care and support for people with learning disabilities we have an opportunity to change the landscape. Giving individuals and families a collective voice enabling greater scope and varied ways of meeting their needs and creating meaningful opportunities. 

Within the context of Self-Directed Support there is an opportunity to explore the possibilities for disabled people to pool their budgets and their respective families and allies coming together to develop the range of support that they collectively and individually need, maximising their purchasing power and enabling economies of scale.

Find out more about Co-operative values and what they mean to us here.



EDG has been working with people with learning disabilities and their families for over 27 years. In recent years many families and individuals have made it clear that they want to have more control over the way support is delivered. People are looking to use self-directed support to design and manage innovative and bespoke support. This will give people the best opportunity possible to live meaningful lives where they can make their contribution to the community and be valued. 

After receiving a 12 month Innovation Fund grant we were able to research and explore a number of ideas including the co-operative approach. We identified a need for further work with co-operatives to take this learning forward. With a 'Big Lottery (The National Lottery Community Fund) award of £340k we launched the three year project on 1st April 2017 with a plan to establish 5 care co-operatives for disabled people and their families over the next 3 years.

If you want to know more about the background to this project you can read more here.


5 care co-operatives for disabled people and their families or allies over 3 years -  

This was our pilot co-operative and will be supported to develop as a self managing co-op. It is made up of three families with learning disabled adult children with complex health needs (aged 40 - 55) and their siblings

Our Future in Our Hands

Queensferry Co-operative

Supporting Families to find Play Opportunities in South Queensferry


EDG is currently working in South Queensferry with families to develop play opportunities in the local area. This is focused on working with families to identify their needs and different kinds of play opportunities as well as looking into venues where such a group could be held. If you are a family with a young person with special needs in the area and would be interested in developing a group then do get in touch with Lindsay on lgconsultancy11@gmail.com. 

As we approach the end of year two we want to recognise the progress of 8 families who are setting up a care co-operative to manage the support of 8 young adults with a learning disability. In the last year and a half they have spent time bonding, creating a charter, members agreement and memorandum and articles so they can register as a company. A lot of progress in a short time!

Their main reasons for coming together as families are so the young people can be supported to identify and follow their dreams and aspirations, pool resources to access more cost effective and bespoke support and to forma an extended community of families who can offer practical and emotional support. 

The Street 
Women's Group

A group of four disabled women have come together to provide each other with emotional support and practical advice about issues around the day to day management of their support packages. A big theme which emerged over the first year was that they have all had difficult experiences where health and social care professionals have shown a lack of empathy, knowledge or understanding about their conditions and support needs. On many occasions this has led to a decrease in their mental and physical health. 

The women are developing a film resource for professionals to support them in delivering the personalised care that as 'experts in their own bodies' the women see is needed.  


‘The Street’ is so-called because it is different from the other coops in the project which bring people together because of a common interest or need for a particular kind of activity or support. In The Street, we invite people who live in the same locality to come together as a community. So members may gather to seek (and offer) support for all kinds of different reasons. It takes us back to the true essence of community, where natural supports build and we celebrate diversity.


We took the decision to end the Community Gather in June. The Gather took the form of  Cooperative Community Meal; It was held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at the Haven in South Queensferry. It was  free and open to ANY community member.  Unfortunately, numbers were insufficient to make it viable.  We are exploring other ways of developing co-operatives in the area.





Claire Edwards 


Project Manager

I have a vested interest in the success of the project to establish Care Co-operatives.

Shirley Young 


 Independent Evaluator

I have worked at EDG since 1991. I am currently a Development Co-ordinator but have had different roles throughout the years at EDG including Information Officer and Advocacy Worker.

Helen Wright

Development Coordinator and Graphic Facilitator

Helen Wright

Development Coordinator and Graphic Facilitator

Lindsay Graham

External Consultant

I have over 18 years experience of working in learning disability. I have worked to support those with additional needs in independent living and in employment.

Helen Wright

Development Coordinator and Graphic Facilitator

I have worked at EDG since 1991. I am currently a Development Co-ordinator but have had different roles throughout the years at EDG including Information Officer and Advocacy Worker.




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EDG, Unit 16b, Castlebrae Business Centre,

Peffer Place, Edinburgh, EH16 4BB 

Tel: 0131 476 0522


Promoting Community Inclusion in Edinburgh

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Company No: SC217922 Charity No: SCO20079

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